Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Simple pleasures

As you probably know by now, nothing pleases us here at the Chillidome more than a bit of simplification. And so with great pleasure, I present a simpler 1 opening.

When we discovered that it was possible to combine two tetchy hand types – the strong notrump and the intermediate minor 5-4 hand – we went on a bit further and added in 16- and 17-point minor 5-4s for no good reason other than we could.

As we now see, not only was this not necessary (they work perfectly okay through 1) but it also made things a bit of a blur on opener's rebid. Sure, you could distinguish astrong hand from the intermediate minor two-suiter, but in an auction like 11; 2, strong responder will often need to know if opener is balanced with four-card support, or 5431 with three-card support. Without special agreements, this was not possible.

So the fix is simple: we've taken out those 16- and 17-point minor two-suiters. This leads to simpler words and rules, and much celebration.

While we were at it, I've clarified that the lower end of the minor two-suited option is 11 points – a 10-pointer would not meet the rule of 20. In similar vein, the upper end of a one of a major opening could be 16 if it were a 4441 hand which would not qualify for 1 because of the rule of 25.

I've also tweaked the three pages on side suit bidding in a fit auction: previously called 'three of a side suit', 'four of a side suit' and 'five of a side suit', they are now more accurately 'side suit below 3NT', 'side suit above 3NT' and 'side suit after the count' respectively, requiring a small rearrangement of their content.

And in the typo category, I've corrected the previously erroneous description of 1NT in the openings summary, mended a broken link in the NEXT chain and fixed a styling bug that caused lines to be variably spaced when viewed in IE.

I'd like to thank Andrea – a true peperoncino – for pointing out many of these inaccuracies.

Alan Williams
October 2008

The Chilli bidding system is described and defined at chillibidding.org.


11 comments:

Andrea said...

Hello Alan,

congrats, the new 1 D is a great revision! Its sequences are almost "natural" now, and it is even more effective in giving Chilli both a weak and a strong notrump...

A short question: I am wondering whether there are self-agreeing suit-setter bids in disturbed auction, too. I hope there are some, as they would be more ways to jump from the relatively unstructured disturbed auction into the very structured fit one.

Best wishes,

Andrea

Alan Williams said...

Hi Andrea

Thanks for your comments on 1D. I agree that getting some of the best of both the weak and strong notrump worlds is a Chilli strength.

There are no self-agreeing suit bids in disturbed auctions. I agree with you that it would be good to get into the structured world of fit auctions as often as possible, but it's not clear to me how you could create such bids without removing other useful meanings.

I think fit sequences in a neutral suit-setting auction really come into their own only at the slam level. Bidding slams in a competitive auction is often more to do with good judgement than with precise tools, so I am also not sure how much would be gained.

But I'm open to ideas!

Best wishes
Alan

Andrea said...

Hello Alan,

another question: in the last example in "Neutral three of a major", shouldn't the sequence be something like:

1 Spades - 2 Diamonds
2 Hearts - 2 Spades
3 Clubs - 3 Diamonds
3 Hearts - 3 Spades

or is the 954 Heart suit too weak to bid (except as an empty suit)?

Thanks and all the best,

Andrea

Alan Williams said...

Hi Andrea

Well spotted! Your sequence is indeed the correct one. There was another problem with the example: both hands had a seven of diamonds.

Since the point I was making was that a suit-setter could come almost out of the blue so long as partner had bid the suit, I've changed the East hand slightly so that my original sequence becomes correct.

Best wishes
Alan

Andrea said...

Hi again Alan,
I have some more questions/suggestions...

1) I still think that the 1 Diamond (strong flavour) and 1 NT openings should mention that, in these cases, partner can "disturb" to 2 Hearts or Spades with only 5 cards.

2) Partner opens 1 NT and I want to bid a slam in NT but need to know aces first... I can't make the auction fit and 4 NT is simply a slam invitation. In other words, where is my Gerber? :)

3) In a disturbed auction, partner asks 4 NT Blackwood and then bids 5 NT. King ask, grand slam invitation or still pick-a-slam?

4) And, last but not least... Partner opens 1 Club, enemy shouts 2 Spades and I have a 9-point one-suiter: I want to force, but double and 2 NT are for 2/3 suiters and no suit bid is forcing in this situation. I could cue-bid 3 Spades then bid my suit, but that would be even more space consuming than the enemy preempt (what if partner is short in my suit?). And if enemy had shouted 3 Spades?

Sorry to be so punctilious, but I really love Chilli (in its original meaning as hot peppers, too!).

Anyway... Happy All Hallows!

Andrea

Alan Williams said...

Hi Andrea

(1) Yes I agree. I will tidy this up later.

(2) You can set the suit after 1NT; start with 2D and then use a suit-setter at some point. Going the slow route will often be right thing anyway, since a marginal slam may depend on finding some sort of fit.

If you really have no interest in any fit, you must be balanced and (typically) four cards in one or both majors. In that case, I would like 33 points for my slam please, and then I cannot be missing two aces.

In other words, I cannot envisage any hand where Gerber would be useful. I think the current meaning of 4C - a premature suit-setter showing solid clubs - is rare but more useful.

(3) Pick-a-slam, but it needs clarifying.

(4) I think you have highlighted a weakness in the current rules.

I'm very happy that 1H (2S) 3D is forcing, as this fits with the expert view that you should not be bidding new suits in this potential misfit situation without strength.

I'm also happy that 1NT (2S) 3D is not forcing, since opener has fairly closely defined his hand, and you must be able to compete here.

But after 1C (2S), I agree with you that there is a lack of strong sequences.

I have the germ of an idea about this. In a way it was inspired by some thinking I was doing about another idea from Piet, a Chilli commentator in the Netherlands.

But it needs quite a bit more thinking through first. I'll put up a new blog when I have something worth saying. It might a week or so because I have rather a heavy work schedule.

Once again, many thanks for ideas and interest.

Best wishes
Alan

Andrea said...

Hi Alan,

I have thought a little about the matter of the "disturbed new suit" and I think that there could be a rather simple solution, in two parts:

1) The rules that "3 of a major is forcing" and "a non-jump minor under game level is forcing" hold always, not only opposite a suit-showing bid. A simplification, actually. :)

2) But opposite bids that don't show a suit, if 2NT is still available it changes its meaning to a sort of very simplified "Lebensohl", saying: partner, I have a non-forcing one-suiter (so no double) that I cannot bid directly (because it would be forcing). So it must be any suit lower than the enemy suit, namely...
After 2D interference, 2NT means Clubs (2H and 2S are still non-forcing).
After 2H interference, 2NT means Clubs or Diamonds (2H is still non-forcing).
After 2S interference, 2NT means Clubs, Diamonds or Hearts.
Opener simply bids a 3C relay (or even passes!) with a hand that would have passed the direct non-forcing bid, otherwise does a natural forcing bid.
After interferences of 1NT or 2C there is no problem and the meaning of 2NT can be the usual 2-suiter.

Seems easy enough to me. Two negatives:

1) Often 2NT loses the 2-suiter meaning, but it can be well represented by double.

2) If interference is 2NT or higher, there is no easy way to show a non-forcing one-suiter (responder should choose the lesser evil between pass, double and a one-round forcing suit bid), but according to what I have read, most seem to play new suits one-round forcing in these cases.

Well, this is my proposal anyway...

Best wishes,

Andrea

Alan Williams said...

Hi Andrea

I've also been thinking about 'Lebensohl'-like ideas. It seems to me that the current use of disturbed 2NT opposite something other than a natural suit bid - to show the lowest two unshown suits - is rather under-used. And in situations like (2S) dbl (pass) ? we are clearly a little short of mechanics.

My idea was that in a situation like these, 2NT initially says 'bid your better minor', but then after opener has done so, any continuation shows some other hand: in fact, the very type of meaning you have been looking for: a forcing suit-setter.

So for example 1C (2S) 2NT (pass); 3D (pass) and now 3H, 4C and 4D are all forcing suit-setters. This is a sort of reverse Lebensohl: the direct bids would be weak and competitive.

A variation is that the delayed suit bids would be forcing but not suit-setters. I think this may be more flexible, but I haven't thought it through yet.

Your idea that three of a major should always be forcing is very appealing as a simplification. However, it does leave you with a big problem over an opening three-level pre-empt: basically all bids are game-forcing. That's why I'm thinking about the reverse idea.

Best wishes.
Alan

P.S. I'm just about to make those website corrections you suggested.

Andrea said...

Hi Alan,

I like a lot your idea of a "reverse Lebensohl". My advice would be to make it one-suiter or two-suiter (5-5 in the lower unbid suits, as usual), but always with forcing values (not weak). Otherwise, there could be a situation like:
You: 1 C
LHO: 2 S
Partner: 2 NT
RHO: 4 S
and you are stuck with no idea of partner's hand (weak or strong? one or two suiter?).

But if 2 NT is always good, IMHO it can be followed by a solid development with few easy rules:

1) If partner ever bids NT again, he has the 5-5 two-suiter.
2) If he bids a suit, he has that one-suiter (fair enough...).
3) If he jumps in a suit, that is a forcing suit-setter.
4) If he cue-bids the enemy suit, that is a replacement for clubs (and a suit-setter if a jump).

Let us see two cases. Easy one: after 1 C - 2 S - 2 NT opponents suddenly realise their folly and shut down. So you relay with 3 Clubs and partner says:

3 D = diamond one-suiter
3 H = heart one-suiter
3 S (cue-bid) = club one-suiter
3 NT = minor two-suiter
4 C = club suit-setter (obviously counts as a jump)
4 D = diamond suit-setter
4 H = heart suit-setter

(If you had opened 1 D instead of 1 C, usual rules could still hold: 3 C shows the minor 5-4 and partner, in this case, can either pass or bid as opposite the 1 C opening, with the obvious difference that 3 D and the 3 S cue-bid become fit bids)

But let us see what could happen in the "tragic" case where RHO barbarously raises the preempt to 4 Spades. Now you, knowing that partner has a good hand, can bid:

Double = penalty (partner can still pull with a very offensive hand)
Pass = forcing relay! Partner just bids 4 NT with the two-suiter or his suit with the one-suiter. (I admit that I love the forcing pass)
4 NT = Blackwood
5 C, 5 D, 5 H = your suit
5 S (cue-bid, direct or after Blackwood) = general force, now partner bids 5 NT with the two-suiter or picks his slam with the one-suiter
5 NT (direct or after Blackwood) = pick-a-slam

That seems like a lot of choices at such a high level!

I am particularly interested in this because it goes even beyond the Chilli system and addresses the generally difficult problem of interference handling after a strong 1 C or another artificial bid.

All the best,

Andrea

Andrea said...

Hi Alan,

after some thought and some testing I realised that I was almost completely wrong in my previous post. My mistake was focusing too much on the situation after the 1 Club opening: your "weak or strong" 2NT idea is much better after the 1NT opening and whenever our priority is competing effectively. So, what I think now is that your idea may need only few variations:

1) Disturbed 2NT should always show game-forcing values after our 1 Club and (probably) 1 Diamond openers; after 1D, the usual rule that 3C by opener shows the 5-4 and cancels the game force would still apply.

2) Disturbed 2NT should show at least opening values after opponents open with a preempt.

3) In any case, a new suit by the 2NT bidder should be forcing if not already at game level, and a suit-setter if bid with a jump.

The somewhat artificial development that I proposed in my previous post could still be effective in case 1, but probably different developments after 2NT would be too complicated and so un-Chilli. :)

Best wishes,

Andrea

Alan Williams said...

Hi Andrea

Sorry about the slow reply - I'm very busy with work at the moment. Still, at least it gave you a chance to get in two comments before I replied!

Although you backtracked in your second comment, I think your thought in the first comment that 2NT should not be ambiguous is absolutely right. It must either be always strong or always weak.

I've been thinking a lot about the sequence 1C (2S) 'our bid' (4S). We are at a disadvantage anyway in this auction by having started with an artificial bid. So it seems necessary that 'our bid' conveys as much about the responder's hand as possible if opener is to do the right thing next. On the other hand, it must not compromise us if they do not continue.

I'm cooking up a scheme that takes that on board, plus your and my thoughts in general on the lack of forcing bids in disturbed auctions. It's a big change, and new territory for Chilli, but it has the 'universal rule' feel to it.

I'm going to go a bit quiet for a week or so while I iron out the wrinkles and come up with the complete package. I'll post a new blog when it matures.

Best wishes
Alan